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In this blog, we will look at PEMF. You will learn:
- What Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy or PEMF Therapy is
- How PEMF can help you and your clients achieve optimal health
- A few tips on choosing a home PEMF device that’s right for you
Do you know what PEMF Therapy is and how it can help your clients? If you want to know more about this cutting-edge health technology and how to best optimize the health of your clients, then this blog is for you. Please read on for answers!
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What is Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy or PEMF Therapy?
To understand PEMF Therapy, we first need to understand electromagnetic energy and how our cells function. The human body produces electrical activity. This activity occurs in the cell membrane of different cells; in neurons, endocrine and muscle cells. This activity creates an electromagnetic field.
As a result of the electrical activity in the cell membrane, there is a charge or voltage. When a cell is damaged or sick, the voltage of the membrane decreases and its electrical activity slows or stops.
Electromagnetic energy is very important for our bio chemistry. Any disturbance to the energy in cells causes impaired cell metabolism. If our cells are not healthy, our body cannot be healthy. Lower electromagnetic activity can lead to disease. A cancer cell, for example, has a lower-than-normal membrane voltage.
It is possible to help a sick cell. Applying a therapeutic magnetic field to the body supports the sick cell and provides energy. Magnetic fields rebalance cells and increase cellular energy. It can help cells even before damage or disease become obvious.
Pulsed Electromagnetic Field or PEMF sends magnetic energy into the body. The magnetic energy works with the body’s own magnetic field to improve healing (Fiani B, 2021). PEMF electromagnetic fields naturally influence cells to address and correct cellular dysfunction.
PEMF pulses work by penetrating the cellular membrane. This stimulates important organelles of the cell, like mitochondria and the nucleus. It restores the function of cells and tissues (Tamulevicius N, 2021). Healthier cells and tissues improve health and longevity.
PEMF is non-invasive. It has been used in medicine for bone growth, wound healing, neuropathies and depression since the 1950s (Gold, 2015). The first FDA approval was in 1979 (Gold, 2015).
What is PEMF’s Mechanism of Action (MOA)?
There are conflicting reports on the exact mechanism of action of how PEMF Therapy works to increase healing (Fiani B, 2021). It is thought to involve many biological processes. These include (Fiani B, 2021) and (Tamulevicius N, 2021):
Increase in the release of nitric oxide (NO). Nitric oxide release is healing, decreases inflammation and can enhance the immune system (Fiani B, 2021). PEMF Therapy improves healing through increased nitric oxide levels (Bragin DE S. G., 2018). NO increases blood flow and microcirculation. It induces vasodilation, or a widening of blood vessels, which increases blood flow and oxygen to the tissues (Bragin DE, 2015). Improved blood flow and oxygen supply heals injuries. It can improve exercise performance, lower blood pressure and increase brain function (Bragin DE S. G., 2018).
Enhanced angiogenesis. Angiogenesis is the formation of new blood vessels so that oxygen and nutrients can be delivered to the body’s tissues. It is important for growth, development and wound healing. Insufficient oxygen or blood flow are problems in conditions like heart attack, heart disease or diabetes. In these diseases, PEMF Therapy can increase angiogenesis (Tamulevicius N, 2021). PEMF-induced angiogenesis happens through multiple pathways where PEMF promotes signaling molecules (Tamulevicius N, 2021). Through increased angiogenesis, PEMF enhances blood flow to all tissue and supports healing (Tamulevicius N, 2021).
Upregulated transmembrane receptors. This lets cells function and communicate better. Cell membrane receptor functions include cell activation, cell adhesion and signaling or communication pathways. Receptors allow for substances to cross into and out of the cellular membrane. They work with hormones and neurotransmitters to communicate between the cell and the extracellular environment. Upregulation is effectively an increase in the number of receptors on the surface of the cell. This makes it more sensitive to a hormone, allowing for more cellular activity and for cells to function better (Tamulevicius N, 2021).
Reduction in inflammatory markers (Fiani B, 2021). The magnetic current that PEMF sends into damaged cells slows or stops pain and inflammatory mediators from being released (Fiani B, 2021). Reduced inflammation causes a decrease in pain, which allows for energy increases and faster tissue healing.
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What are the Benefits of PEMF?
PEMF helps with a number of issues:
- Pain and Inflammation
PEMF is useful in swelling, pain management and inflammation-related diseases through the decreased production of pro-inflammatory cytokines (Tamulevicius N, 2021). It affects gene expression. In one study on mice, PEMF upregulated 136 genes and downregulated 267 genes (Tamulevicius N, 2021). This improved the survival rate of mice with septic shock, due to lower levels of pro-inflammatory cytokine mRNA expression (Lee CG, 2022). With PEMF, there was less organ damage in the mice (Lee CG, 2022).
The gold standard in clinical trials (randomized, double-blinded and placebo-controlled) show PEMF can treat non-specific lower back pain, pain syndromes, chronic post-operative pain, osteoarthritis-related pain, rheumatoid arthritis-related pain and fibromyalgia-related pain (Ross C, 2022). This is thought to be due to the reduction it causes in inflammation.
- Wound and Bone Healing
PEMF Therapy can be used in bone fracture healing, soft-tissue injury, ligament, tendon and wound injuries (Chen Y, 2021). In bone, PEMF promotes cell viability and cell adhesion. It can even protect against the harm cigarette smoking causes in bones (Chen Y, 2021).
PEMF promotes osteogenesis or the formation of bone (Wang L, 2021). PEMF affects cells, leading to osteogenesis and chondrocyte (or cartilage) proliferation (Fiani B, 2021). Using PEMF post-operatively can help with bone fusion following spinal fusion surgery. It decreases recovery time and pain (Fiani B, 2021).
- Muscle, Tendon & Ligament Health
PEMF Therapy affects the cellular repair processes important to bone and tendon injuries (Huegel J, 2021). PEMF therapy improves tendon repair and recovery in rats (Huegel J, 2021). It affects tendon gene expression and cell composition, bone microarchitecture and dynamic bone metabolism during early stages of healing. PEMF improves the signaling pathways and reduces inflammation for better bone metabolism at the repair site. Changes in gene expression increases pro-osteogenic genes and upregulates the bone signaling pathway (Huegel J, 2021). This helps to re-establish the tendon-bone interface. Anti-inflammatory effects happen through gene expression (Huegel J, 2021).
- Osteoarthritis (OA)
PEMF can be used for osteoarthritis-related pain. PEMF preserves bone microarchitecture, prevents bone loss and enhances bone and cartilage synthesis (Mauro GL, 2021). It is even more effective when PEMF treatment is given before OA sets in. PEMF reduces pain, can improve knee function and physical performance and enhance the quality of life in people with osteoarthritis (Mauro GL, 2021). Studies show that PEMF may need to be repeated to maintain results. Results are better in OA patients younger than 45 years old (Mauro GL, 2021).
- Brain Health, Strokes, Neurological Disease, Depression & Anxiety
PEMF increases nitric oxide in the brain. This induces vasodilation, opens blood flow, enhances microvascular perfusion and tissue oxygenation in the brain. This is very helpful in healing the brain after stroke and traumatic brain injury (Bragin DE, 2015).
Acute cerebral ischemia, or stroke, is when blood flow to the brain is impaired and causes an acute brain injury. PEMF Therapy can help. In a stroke, a prolonged inflammatory response, impaired mitochondrial function and oxidative stress are responsible for the brain injury that occurs. PEMF has a neuroprotective role after a stroke (Capone F, 2021). It modulates cell receptors and improves cell receptor function in different neuron cells (Capone F, 2021). This can reduce apoptosis and oxidative stress in neuronal cells and have strong anti-inflammatory effects on microglial cells (macrophages found in the central nervous system (CNS). PEMF can reduce problems with brain function following a stroke (Capone F, 2021).
- Neurological Disease
In patients with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), PEMF reduces inflammation, increases vasodilation and improves blood circulation (Funk RH, 2021). This is due to increased nitric oxide. It can modulate gene expression in cell functions that become dysregulated with AD. It stimulates epigenetic regulation and rebalances signaling and cellular pathways that stop functioning properly in Alzheimer’s Disease (Funk RH, 2021).
PEMF reduces pain in patients with MS (Funk RH, 2021). Nitric oxide levels are low in the brains of MS patients (Funk RH, 2021). PEMF raises NO. NO blocks pain perception in the central nervous system and can enhance the pain-relieving effects of opioids and other painkillers.
- Depression & Anxiety
PEMF has proven anti-depression effects and is more effective than antidepressants (Bech P, 2011). It improves cellular respiration and function. It can modulate neuro-chemical imbalances that cause depression (Udupa K, 2007). This is done by rebalancing critical hormones for mental health, such as serotonin, dopamine and cortisol (Udupa K, 2007). In anxiety, PEMF lessens PTSD-induced fear and exaggerated fear (Alizadeh MAM, 2019). This is due to its neuroprotective effects on the hippocampus of the brain (Alizadeh MAM, 2019).
PEMF Therapy affects the potency of anti-cancer drugs by increasing cytotoxicity in cancer cells. One study showed 12 hours of PEMF significantly increases the cytotoxic effect of cancer drugs on cancer cells (Woo SH, 2022). PEMF can also affect intracellular signaling molecules in various types of cancer (Woo SH, 2022). Specifically, PEMF exposure was shown to reduce the invasiveness of MCF-7 breast cancer cells (Tai YK, 2022). PEMF is helpful as an addition to chemotherapy in treating certain breast cancers (Tai YK, 2022).
- Post-Viral Fatigue
PEMF Therapy stimulates the body to heal itself. It is helpful with post-viral infection fatigue. In one study, fatigue, work ability, quality of life, anxiety, depression, stress levels and resilience were measured after a strong viral infection. PEMF improved all of these symptoms in 10 sessions (Wagner B, 2022). Results indicate that fatigue, work ability, quality of life, and psychological well-being clearly improved with PEMF and continued to show results 6 weeks later (Wagner B, 2022).
Cells naturally lose their electromagnetic charge with age. This decreases their function, leading to poor circulation, inflammation, chronic pain and disease. PEMF rebalances cell health and vitality, which is anti-aging. Reasons for aging include the depletion of ATP, cellular changes, mitochondrial dysfunction and DNA damage. PEMF can improve all of these issues.
PEMF has anti-aging benefits for skin too. PEMF forms electrical currents on skin. This changes the electrical potential of charged receptors on the membrane of skin cells and stimulates cellular reactions. Benefits of PEMF used on skin include tightening loose skin, smoothing of the appearance of cellulite, reducing localized fat deposits and softening fine lines and wrinkles (Gold, 2015).
As we have seen, PEMF improves various physiological processes including production of nitric oxide, reducing pain and inflammation, improving circulation, enhancing cellular membrane function and metabolism, communication and growth and repair. It improves biochemical activity on a cellular level which can slow aging and its effects.
Does PEMF have any Side Effects?
Acute adverse effects have not been reported (Hug K, 2012). PEMF is considered safe. It is painless and non-invasive. There are no issues with high use, or ‘excessive’ exposure, of the electromagnetic fields generated by a PEMF device (Hug K, 2012). Some people should not use PEMF. This includes people with pacemakers, insulin pumps or other electrical implants and pregnant women.
PEMF Therapy Devices
You can buy a PEMF device to use at home. There are full body devices or smaller ones for spot treatment. Doing PEMF at home means you can do it in your own time. It’s low cost once you’ve bought the device and avoids the need for frequent clinic visits.
Which PEMF Device is Right for you?
There are different types of PEMF Therapy devices on the market. Traditional PEMF devices are often full body mats that you lie down on during the session. Primary care doctors, orthopedic surgeons, physical therapists and chiropractors typically use these devices. The full body mats manage full body pain and inflammation.
There are also smaller, portable PEMF devices which are easier to use at home. Smaller portable PEMF devices are better for localized areas of the body, such as knees or back.
There are differences between PEMF devices so you need to choose the right device for you. Some important factors to consider when looking at the various options in PEMF are:
- Is the device appropriate for you and your specific health conditions? Different people, parts of the body and pathologies respond better or worse to different devices.
- Proven results of the specific device
- Convenience & comfort
- Full-body mats versus portable devices
- Low versus high frequency and intensity settings
- Ease of use
There are quite a few devices on the market. The best way to choose a PEMF device is to ask in our clinic. Our doctors can advise you and give you a professional opinion on which device suits you and your needs best.
Are you ready to try PEMF therapy?
** Please stay tuned for our next Blog! **
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